More than two years after SpaceX had first requested regulatory permission to launch its full 30,000 Starlink satellite constellation, FCC (under the Biden administration) has finally made a decision, and in doing so it has arbitrarily reduced the number of satellites SpaceX can launch to 7,500.
On November 29th, 2022, the FCC completed that review and granted SpaceX permission to launch just 7,500 of the ~30,000 Starlink Gen2 satellites it had requested permission for more than 30 months prior. The FCC offered no explanation of how it arrived at its arbitrary 75% reduction, nor why the resulting number is slightly lower than a different 7,518-satellite Starlink Gen1 constellation SpaceX had already received a license to deploy in late 2018. Adding insult to injury, the FCC repeatedly acknowledges that “the total number of satellites SpaceX is authorized to deploy is not increased by our action today, and in fact is slightly reduced.”
That claimed reduction is thanks to the fact that shortly before this decision, SpaceX told the FCC in good faith that it would voluntarily avoid launching the dedicated V-band Starlink constellation it already received a license for in order “to significantly reduce the total number of satellites ultimately on orbit.” Instead, once Starlink Gen2 was approved, it would request permission to add V-band payloads to a subset of the 29,988 planned Gen2 satellites, achieving a similar result without the need for another 7,518 satellites.
In response, the FCC slashed the total number of Starlink Gen2 satellites permitted to less than the number of satellites approved by the FCC’s November 2018 Starlink V-band authorization; limited those satellites to middle-ground orbits, entirely precluding Gen2 launches to higher or lower orbits; and didn’t even structure its compromise in a way that would at least allow SpaceX to fully complete three Starlink Gen2 ‘shells.’ Worse, the FCC’s partial grant barely mentioned SpaceX’s detailed plans to use new E-band antennas on Starlink Gen2 satellites and next-generation ground stations, simply stating that it will “defer acting on” the request until “further review and coordination with Federal users.”
Apparently, the FCC’s decision here was essentially a rubber-stamp of recommendations by Amazon, whose Kuiper constellation (so far entirely unlaunched) would be SpaceX’s direct competitor. In other words, the FCC is now taking sides against Starlink to favor its competitors.
Read the entire article. In every way this FCC decision smacks of politics, partly to help a Democratic ally (Jeff Bezos) and partly to hurt someone the Democrats now see as an enemy (Elon Musk).
Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!
From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.
Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space
, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.
does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.
“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.
All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.
Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.